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Edith Evans Swan


1937 - 2020
Edith Evans Swan Obituary
November 3, 1937 - May 3, 2020

Edith Evans Swan of Durango, Colorado, died at home of cancer on May 3, 2020, with her beloved husband, Jerry Muth, at her side. She was 82.

The oldest of four children, Edie was born on November 3, 1937, in Boston, Massachusetts to Mary "Fletcher" Swan (nee Wardwell) and Henry Swan II, a pioneering cardiovascular surgeon. When she was a young child, the family moved to Denver, Colorado. With her siblings, Edie enjoyed family fishing trips, horseback riding, skiing, competitive diving, and summers on Cape Cod. Edie attended Graland Country Day School and the Kent Denver School.

Edith Swan earned a bachelor of arts at Bennington College, a master's at University of Arizona, and a Ph.D. in cultural anthropology at University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She spent her professional life in academia, as professor of anthropology at Grand Valley State College in Michigan, an administrative fellow at Evergreen State College in Washington, and as associate dean of student academic affairs at Oberlin College in Ohio. At Oberlin, she was a sought-after advisor for student independent studies and taught a class in Native American

literature.

In 1996, she retired and settled in Durango. She rekindled her friendship with Alta Begay Ellsworth, who had served as her Navajo/Dine interpreter for an undergraduate field study in 1959. Over time, she and Alta recorded seventy 90-minute interviews. In 2018, Edie published Making Selves Women: Life and Times of a Navajo Woman (Ellsworth & Swan), which tells Alta's life story in her own words, alongside Navajo/Dine cultural meanings and 20th century

historical context. It was one of Edie's proudest achievements.

Edie was also known for her wonderful cooking and her highly creative gardens, which became the setting for several weddings. She and her sister, Gretchen Bering, regularly attended meetings of the Denver Fortnightly Club, which was founded by their great-grandmother, Ella Strong Denison.

In 2005 she met Jerry Jay Muth, a small business owner, former ski industry professional, and avid golfer. They married in her garden on June 12, 2010. With their mutual enthusiasm for opera, fly fishing, and Native American art and culture, they shared countless happy hours - whether at home, on numerous fishing trips, or at opera performances in Santa Fe or simulcast in Durango. They also enjoyed their growing horde of grandchildren and step-grandchildren. They brought each other much joy.

Edith Swan was preceded in death by her sister, Helen (Swan) Evans, and her brother, Henry Swan III. She is survived by her sister, Gretchen (Swan) Bering, her beloved friend, Will Evans, her loving husband, Jerry Muth, her children, Helen Harrison and Mark Harrison, her grandchildren, Jane Harrison-Millman, Miren Harrison-Millman, Audrey Harrison, and Gwen Harrison, and five step-grandchildren.

Donations in her memory can be made to the Navajo Nation COVID-19 Relief Fund at www.nndoh.org/donate.html or by mail. Make checks payable to the Navajo Nation, include "COVID-19 Response Donation" in the memo section of your check, and mail to Navajo Nation Office of the Controller, P.O. Box 3150, Window Rock, AZ 86515.
Published in The Durango Herald on May 11, 2020
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